Prince of Persia first hit gamers screens 23 years ago on the venerable Apple II. And while a great many ports were made over the years the original source code was lost to the ages. Until two weeks ago when three 3.5″ floppies were discovered in the back of a cupboard.
Jordan Mechner, the developer of the original Prince of Persia, relieved his surprise at the end of March when his dad sent him a box full of old floppies and cassettes. In amongst this were his long lost copies of Prince of Persia. Wanting to recover the code, but fearing the damage he could cause in the process Jordan put out a call for anyone that would be able to help him. Since then digital archivist Jason Scott has helped transfer the data from the fragile floppy discs, and now the code is up on Github for the public to dig through at their leisure. Though this is assembly code so it will more than likely be a bit of a tough read for anyone but interested gaming historians and programmers wanting a bit of a challenge.
This is a pretty great achievement, and it’s super lucky that after over 10 year these discs still worked. But despite the success here it should reinforce the fragility of gaming history, how many games original source code have been lost to the passage of time while century old films sit in deep salt mines? For an insight into the process Jason Scott has a pretty good write up over at Jordan Mechner’s blog on the process of recovering data from old storage formats and how their collaboration came to be.